Running down Nick Johnson’s myriad injuries

Coaching staff set to return in 2010
After one year, a home run park but nothing else

Nick Johnson, as we know, is not a pillar of health. If he were, he’d have received far more than the one-year, $5.75 million contract he signed earlier this off-season. The Yankees took a gamble, and considering the injuries that have kept him on the bench during his eight-year MLB career it’s a pretty considerable one. Yet Johnson doesn’t appear to suffer any chronic ailments. The Yankees had concerns about Hideki Matsui‘s knees, knowing that they could be an issue in 2010. But with Johnson, there’s no single body part that has caused him constant problems.

Chris at The Yankee U pulls up Johnson’s injury history, noting that he’s missed 589 season days to injury over his career. That seems like a staggering number, though it gets skewed because of Johnson’s 2006 and 2008 injuries. Following an otherwise healthy 2006 season, Johnson broke his femur after colliding with teammate Austin Kearns. He missed the final seven days of the season and then the entire 2007 campaign, totaling 193 days. Then, 38 games into his 2008 return, he tore a tendon sheath in his wrist while swinging. That adds another 137 days. The two injuries cost Johnson 330 total days on the disabled list, or 56 percent of his career total.

Of the two injuries, the wrist clearly causes more concern. That he got through 2009 without any wrist problem provides a positive outlook, but there still has to be some concern. In fact, injuries to the right wrist and hand plagued Johnson earlier in his career. In 2002 he missed 26 days with a right wrist contusion, and then missed another 25 days with right wrist soreness in 2003, though that came in training camp. But later that season he missed 70 days with a stress fracture in his right hand. Like the wrist injury that ended his 2008 season, it came on a swing. He suffered no hand or wrist injuries between 2003 and 2008.

The other major injury, the broken femur, resulted from a freak accident. Perhaps his fragility played into the severity, but there’s no way to prove that. It wasn’t the first time Johnson suffered a freak injury that kept him out for a prolonged period. On August 20, 2004, a Royce Clayton ground ball struck Johnson in the face, dropping him face first into the ground. He suffered a fractured right cheekbone, sidelining him for the rest of the season, 44 days. That puts his freak injury total at 237 days, or 40 percent of his total injury time.

In 2009 Johnson missed 24 days due to injury. The first came after fouling a pitch off his foot. The second, a right hamstring strain, landed him on the 15-day DL and caused him to miss 17 days. It must not have been that severe an injury; we’ve seen players miss much more time with hamstring strains. Finally, he missed six days in September with the flu. So, one real injury, and even that was less severe than many of its type.

Nick Johnson is an injury prone player, no matter how many mitigating factors exist. But because of his similarity to other players on the market, specifically Matsui, those mitigating factors probably did play into the decision to sign him. Because his time on the DL is skewed by two freak injuries, and because he had surgery to correct the one recurring injury seemingly make him a better bet than other injury prone DH types. For instance, Carlos Delgado is coming off major hip surgery, and Hideki Matsui has chronic knee problems. The Yankees, it appears, would rather deal with an injury-prone player with no chronic issues than one with a specific area of concern.

If you want to check out Johnson’s injury history, here’s the chart, courtesy of Fantasy Pitch F/X.

Photo credit: AP/Paul Sancya

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Coaching staff set to return in 2010
After one year, a home run park but nothing else
  • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

    Final Destination 4: Nick Johnson?

  • Salty Buggah

    This and just my general optimism has me feeling good about Nick Johnson for 2010

    • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

      His career OBP is slightly above Miguel Cabrera’s BAC, which as you know is no small feat.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

    Bold prediction: Nick Johnson will finish in the top ten in AL MVP voting next year.

    Oh yeah, I went there.

    • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex
      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        As a heart attack.

        • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

          Interesting. I suppose it’s possible, but his main skill set (getting on base) tends to be undervalued by those voting for MVP. Being a DH may also push it down.

          A lot of this is also contingent on him batting in the middle of the order. If he’s in the two hole, his numbers (even with a .300 average and say a .430 OBP) just won’t look sexy to voters, even if they’re better in terms of overall value. The injury factor is another question, as is the real possibility of the team resting him for around 20 games to give other players some half-days.

          Would I be shocked if he puts up a line of .310/.420/.520/.940? Well, not totally, but it would be pleasantly unexpected, even as a lefty in YS3 and a stacked lineup.

          It certainly is a bold prediction. No doubt.

          My bold prediction of the year: Jason Bay will post a UZR of -3 or better.

          I’m really curious to see if either ends up even being close.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      I’ll take the under.

      • A.D.

        Agreed, if nothing else, a voter should probably already have to put on Tex, A-Rod, and Jeter…if they have avg seasons according to their careers.

    • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

      No way, dude. No way. I’d love it, but there’s no way that happens.

    • Bo

      He doesnt hit with enough power to make a top 10 MVP vote.

      How can he top Matsui’s yr in ’09 power wise and Hideki didnt sniff the top 10.

      The goals for him should be easy. Get 500 ab’s.

      • Zack

        yeah Dustin Pedroia won MVP by hitting 40hrs

      • Steph

        great point Bo!

        500 AB’s and 100 runs

  • http://WayneD WayneD

    I’m growing weary of all this mind-numbing chatter about Nick Johnson’s wonderful OBP. Johnson is a perfect example of how statistics can be misused to glorify someone who should actually be rebuked for what the statistics show under closer examination and logical analysis.

    Nick Johnson has played in 747 games in his “eight full seasons” in MLB. The phrase “eight full seasons” qualifies as an oxymoron in Johnson’s case.

    If we assume that a good full-time player should play in at least 145 games a year (not an unreasonable expectation), then Johnson has played in only 747 of 1,160 possible games (8 x 145 = 1160). This means Johnson has played in only 64.4% of the games in which he should have played.

    Another way of looking at it is that Johnson has missed 35.6% of the games in which he should have played, which means he’s let his team down more than one-third of the time every season (on average). In his “eight full seasons,” in fact, Johnson has surpassed 145 games exactly one (1) time, when he played in a whopping 147 games. So he’s played a full schedule 1 of 8 seasons or 12.5% of his career (whoopee!).

    I’m not knocking Johnson here as a person, he may just be one of the unluckiest players in recent baseball history. He certainly seemed like a good person when he came up through the Yankee farm, and he may well be one to this day. This is not about questioning his character, but questioning his commitment to the game.

    After eight largely injury plagued seasons, you have to wonder whether Johnson has done enough during the offseason and the regular season to stay in game shape, such as employing a full-time strength coach and regularly attending yoga classes to remain flexible. And from outward appearances, he certainly doesn’t look like a man that goes out of his way to stay in top physical shape.

    Johnson’s inability to answer the bell (or maybe we should say National Anthem in his case), makes his seemingly lofty OBP a bit misleading. Yes, he has a career OBP of more than .400 in the 747 games in which he’s played, but he also has a career OBP of .000 in the 549 games in which he didn’t play during that span (8 x 162 = 1,296 – 747 = 549).

    Why is this important? Well, let’s look at the great Derek Jeter for a minute. In his 14 full seasons, he’s played in 145 or more games 13 of 14 seasons or 92.9% of his career, compared to Johnson’s pathetic 12.5%.

    Ask yourself this Yankee fans: How many championships would we have won the past 14 seasons if Jeter was available only 12.5% of the time? That’s a rhetorical question because the answer is ZERO.

    That’s why it’s ludicrous to make so much of Johnson’s .402 career OBP. Do it by playing 145+ games a season for three or four years and I’ll be impressed, not by missing 35.6% of the games YOUR TEAM NEEDED YOU TO PLAY.

    The bottom line in my mind is this: Nick Johnson has FAILED HIS TEAM and HIS TEAMMATES 35.6% of the time. What’s laudatory about that?

    Being a diehard Yankee fan, I hope Johnson is working hard to remain healthy this season. I certainly don’t want him to fail, but his track record gives one little reason to anticipate a 145-game season.

    • mike c

      +/- games played by matsui/johnson individually this year?

    • whozat

      “After eight largely injury plagued seasons, you have to wonder whether Johnson has done enough during the offseason and the regular season to stay in game shape, such as employing a full-time strength coach and regularly attending yoga classes to remain flexible. And from outward appearances, he certainly doesn’t look like a man that goes out of his way to stay in top physical shape.”

      Yeah, that really would have helped the broken femur that resulted from a collision.

      You can try to doll it up all you want, but what you’re really saying is that you think he’s “soft” and you dislike him because of it. You’re just searching for evidence to allow you to say he sucks without admitting the reason why, so you’re misusing stats to do it. You may also be angry that we don’t all look at batting average, RBIs, HRs and stolen base totals as the be-all and end-all of offensive production.

      You could have looked at WAR, which is a counting stat that would legitimately allow you to talk about how much value he’s provided over his career. But, no, you tried to build an argument about how his on-base percentage is somehow not a good thing.

      The whole point of the post was that it’s not that this guy played 64% of each season. He missed a couple of big chunks of time due to freak injuries. That means averaging it all together like you did makes no sense. One of the basic assumptions in your analysis is flawed, and thus your results are invalid.

      • http://WayneD WayneD

        ONE SEASON OF 145+ GAMES! ONE! He’s missed time every season but one: you think that’s a fluke after eight years?

        And what was Johnson’s WAR when he was on the disabled list 35% of his career. How many games can a guy win from the DL?

        Matsui was a smarter gamble in that he’s already proven he can hit in the clutch, especially in the playoffs. Matsui’s a .300+ hitter with power in the playoffs, NJ’s a .200 hitter in the playoffs. So, what’s his WAR in the playofffs? Talk about flawed thinking!

        • http://theyankeeu.com Moshe Mandel

          NJ has 67 career playoff at-bats. Thats too small a sample to draw conclusions from.

          • http://WayneD WayneD

            The point is we passed on a PROVEN playoff hitter in Matsui, and the guy we went with is almost always injured AND hasn’t shown he can hit in the playoffs yet. That’s not a reassuring combination.

            • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

              But Hideki Matsui’s perpetually-in-need-of-draining-knees are reassuring?

              • KK

                Even if he needs to be drained, he still plays more at a high level. When you consider how likely it is that Nick the Stick will be gone for a large chunk of the season, it doesn’t really seem like he’s the cheaper option (since now you need to also find somebody else and pay them for the remaining time).

                At least it’s a super short term deal, so once Yankee fans turn on him (after the first injury) he’s going to be gone (again). And I think Matsui is a FA next year, so we can bring him back and run articles on how great his stats are, but how he’s injury prone.

        • http://WayneD WayneD

          One other thing, whozat, I didn’t say a single word in my original post about “batting average, RBIs, HRs and stolen base totals.”

          My problem with NJ is only his inability to answer the bell 145+ times a season. WAR matters if you play a full season year-in-andyear-out. It doesn’t mean all that much if you almost never play a full season.

          Again, look at Jeter’s career numbers. The stats are great but what makes them even more impressive is he almost always answers the bell. That’s the true mark of greatness.

          • http://theyankeeu.com Moshe Mandel

            WAR is a counting stat. If you dont stay healthy, you wont build up WAR.

            • http://WayneD WayneD

              EXACTLY. You have to be able to play to contribute. Right?

              • king of fruitless hypotheticals

                WAR. what is it good for?

        • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

          So…hes uncommitted and lazy? It’s Nick Johnson, not Nefi Jiminez!

          But seriously, yes, he’s been injured. We’re aware (as you are, it appears). You’ve used unfounded speculation and conjecture to propose that he has a poor work ethic and is uncommitted to the game. Is there any evidence of this? Do you know his training program, his doctor’s visits, his diet, his Tae Bo routine? It’s possible he’s a guy skirting by on sheer talent, but it’s unlikely. As Joe mentioned, he’s had some freak injuries that have limited the amount of games he can play. Sure, he’s had some weird nagging injuries. At this point, it may be more than coincidence, but if that’s the case, it’s likely to be attributed more to a physiologic issue and not a character-based issue. Regardless, you have no fucking idea. Using playoff numbers is ridiculous; it’s a small sample and batting average isn’t even that critical of a stat.

          Ultimately, your conclusion that Nick Johnson is often injured is correct, but the premises to which you base them are logically flawed.

          Also, Rocco Baldelli is a piece of shit who doesn’t care about baseball and thinks he can get by on talent alone. That guy is always injured. I mean, look at how many games he’s missed over the years! That guy hasn’t produced in the playoffs either. He’s only batted .200! Do some yoga, asshole!

          • http://WayneD WayneD

            Stop making things up or changing statements to suit your point of view. I clearly said:

            “After eight largely injury plagued seasons, you have to wonder whether Johnson has done enough during the offseason and the regular season to stay in game shape, such as employing a full-time strength coach and regularly attending yoga classes to remain flexible. And from outward appearances, he certainly doesn’t look like a man that goes out of his way to stay in top physical shape.”

            Yes, it is valid “to wonder” whether he’s done enough to stay in shape given his near perennial problems with injuries.

            Also, the Baldelli reference is, at best, gratuitous: the man suffered a serious illness that curtailed his career. (Baldelli suffers from a rare neuromuscular disease known as mitochondrial myopathy, for which there is no cure.) There isn’t anything anyone can do to forestall the hand god or nature dealt them.

            So it’s absurd to bring Baldelli’s name into this when I didn’t, especially since I deeply admire the guts the man has shown in trying to continue his career.

            • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

              What I wrote

              ——————————

              Your head.

        • RollingWave

          I can’t believe anyone have that much faith in Matsui after seeing him last year. he’s literally walking on crutchs.

          Look, if Nick Johnson was a fully healthy player, he’d be signing a Jason Bay esque deal this off season and not a 1/5ish deal.

          The question we all must ask is wether his injury is something that’s a chronic problem or something that has a lot of luck? a realistic look and we see that he is a very slow healer, if he gets hurt he’s usually gone for a lot longer than other players. but what had caused him to miss the most time throughout his career had been accidents that would have send any player packing to the 60 day DL.

          The whole point of stats analysis is finding things that are good indicators of the future (like his ability to get on base, that is unlikely to change) and finding those that are not (he’s ran into serious injuries due to freak accidents, unless your saying that freak accidents are predictable…) that is how you find market inefficencies,

      • Crazy Eyes Killa

        He didnt say he thinks hes soft, he said the guy has a bad work ethic, and that appears to be true, lets hope hes working out right now

        • http://theyankeeu.com Moshe Mandel

          ”he said the guy has a bad work ethic, and that appears to be true”

          Based on what? Injuries means bad work ethic?

          • KK

            If he works out, he’s going to pull a hamstring…

            Some people are just unlucky.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      All of your speil about Johnson being injury prone and being thus discounted for his inability to stay healthy is true.

      However, your opening statement of:

      I’m growing weary of all this mind-numbing chatter about Nick Johnson’s wonderful OBP. Johnson is a perfect example of how statistics can be misused to glorify someone who should actually be rebuked for what the statistics show under closer examination and logical analysis.

      That shit? False. Mind-numbingly false. The fact that Johnson is injury prone and can’t stay healthy doesn’t mean that statistics are being misused to glorify someone who should be rebuked.

      It’s not an all or nothing game. Johnson should be glorified for being an awesome hitter and great offensive weapon while simultaneously being rebuked for being injury-prone. People can have good and bad traits at the same time.

      Ted Kennedy drank a lot. That doesn’t mean he was a bad public servant who couldn’t make or pass legislation.

      • http://WayneD WayneD

        You’re missing my point, I’m tired of people focusing almost exclusively on the OBP without noting how much NJ’s hurt his various teams by not being able to play so frequently.

        His inability to stay healthy irtually every seasonis at least as eye-opening a stat as his OBP. That’s my point.

        And, by the way, Johnson’s not an “awesome hitter.” A-Rod and Pujols are awesome hitters. NJ is a good hitter (when healthy), but there are at least 50 guys who are better hitters/run producers, including Tex and Jeter.

        One other thing, I voted for Ted for president when he ran against Carter, so you don’t need to lecture me on Ted’s good points.

        • http://theyankeeu.com Moshe Mandel

          Which people are doing that about Johnson? I bet you could not link to one credible website that talks about his OBP and not his injuries. Hell, you are posting in an article all about his injuries that does not mention a single stat. This is just a strawman argument against nonexistent people.

          • Chris

            Apparently he never read this post, which is completely about Johnson’s injury history.

        • whozat

          “you don’t need to lecture me on Ted’s good points.”

          He didn’t. He used the Senator as an example of another person who is both good at his job, but has some traits that can undermine his ability to do succeed.

          You clearly have a chip on your shoulder about something, and I really don’t get what it is.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          You’re missing my point, I’m tired of people focusing almost exclusively on the OBP without noting how much NJ’s hurt his various teams by not being able to play so frequently.

          Your tiredness: pretty irrelevant

          His inability to stay healthy irtually every seasonis at least as eye-opening a stat as his OBP. That’s my point.

          It is. The proper solution for a riddle like this: weigh the positive contribution of his excellent OBP against the negative mitigating factor of his poor health record. Use the two to arrive at a reasonable price point where you can gamble on his health remaining good enough to produce quality offense for a year or two.

          5.5M seems like a decent number. If he stays healthy, he’ll easily outproduce that dollar figure. If he doesn’t, he won’t crimp the payroll, he can be written off as a relatively small-sized sunk cost and a replacement can easily be found.

          And, by the way, Johnson’s not an “awesome hitter.” A-Rod and Pujols are awesome hitters. NJ is a good hitter (when healthy), but there are at least 50 guys who are better hitters/run producers, including Tex and Jeter.

          You don’t like the word “awesome”, fine. I’m not going to quibble about an adjective. He is a talented hitter who is closer to being at the top of the offensive production charts than the bottom, though. When healthy, he provides far, far above replacement level offense. I’m not asking him to be better than Tex or Jeter or ARod or Pujols, though. Just asking him to get on base and set the table, two things he does exceedingly well.

          One other thing, I voted for Ted for president when he ran against Carter, so you don’t need to lecture me on Ted’s good points.

          I think you missed the point of that addendum.

          • http://WayneD WayneD

            RE: “I think you missed the point of that addendum.”

            No, I didn’t. I’ve frequently pointed out Ted’s great accomplishment’s to people over the years who reveled in bring up his faults. It was his hundreds of pluses that led me to vote for him, despite his personal faults.

            • LI Kevin

              Ted was a sleeze and a wind-bag.

              • king of fruitless hypotheticals

                i so wanted to defend wayne until the ted kennedy thing…i dont if you thought he was the lion of the legislature or a lecherous lush, the point wasnt his character–he was an example of having potentially diametrically opposing traits and yet still having value to his supporters.

                the wonderful thing is you have the ability to skip all the nick johnson stories and pontificate about medicare v obamacare, worship large stone owl statues or you can punish yourself by reading whoever posts right after me.

                freedom…you’re doing it right (in a self-immolation sort of way…)

          • http://TedKennedy guru

            Seriously-you voted for Ted Kennedy?
            Oh my.
            Besides being a fringe lefist, murder was not enough for you?
            Then the Clintons (Hillary that lesbian 60’s radical), killed Vince Foster, ( and others).
            What is it with you liberals wanting to support murders?
            Oh I am sorry Bil clinton raped a woman too, (what was her name that poor woman-victim of this mentally ill animal?). Libera media saved him on that one too.
            You must be unbelievably brainwashed.
            Just how stupid and sheep like is America?
            It is stagerring.
            I like our basball points.
            But maybe you had very liberal parents that indoctrinated you, or professors, which are mostly all liberals, who filled your head up with mush. Like our Socialist FrEaKo Hussien president now too? (PLEASE do not bring Bush into this-we HATE him just as much as you lefties, but we do not drink kool-aid like you guys and call our idiots out instead of blindly sticking with them as you Democrats do).
            PLEASE stick to baseball!
            There are wonderful hateful liberal blogs all over-Kumbaya!
            Peace baby!
            Yeah my butt peace.
            Post there and you libs can show your real unloving colors there.
            Your irony makes me laugh.
            BASEBALL BLOG. Get it???

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              BASEBALL BLOG. Get it???

              Yes. Apparently, you don’t.

      • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

        He was also had a few world swimming records until that pot smoker Michael Phelps came along.

      • Bo

        So a public servant can be a drunk and a womanizer and let a woman die in a lake because he didnt do anything and still be a good public servant? Doubtful. Dont glorify contemptible people. If his last name was Jimenez he’d have been in jail.

        • king of fruitless hypotheticals

          no no no. if his last name had been jimenez, there’s no way he would have been at that part, consumed that alcohol or met that women. and probably would have owned a van anyway.

          full analysis next time plskthanxbai.

      • Jeff

        Yeah, because good public servants drunk drive/date rape women to death and avoid prosecution because they have rich parents.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          The point

          ———

          Your head

      • http://TedKennedy guru

        I could not believe my eyes when I read what you said about Ted Kennedy. This forum is about baseball not politics. You pick one of the most revolting and disgusting politicians in history, and somehow equate him into a good equation. He murdered a girl. He was a far left radical liberal whose legislation you put four caused chaos in this country. In fact, his crazy 1965 immigration Reform Act has changed the entire milieu of this country. Changed it for the worse. In fact it was the beginning of the end of this country. We are done in large part because of that self-destructive, hate America, hate white men, hate good immigrants, hate industrious people, hate Europeans, hate just about everything this country was built upon, and for some crazy reason turn it into a third world like country, instead of a first world leader of the world, self-imposed self-destruction, which is insanity, that led to political correctness, and liberalism run wild, which will be seen by the responses to this post, as people have been hypnotized and mesmerized by a liberal media and academia, and it goes on and on. Please stick to baseball. To put one of the fathers of the end of this country, the ruination of our goodness, a liberal freak, from a freak state that should be nuked, as no matter what the Kennedys do they idolize them as kings and queens, that’s sick psycho family, and the King of them is this nut job Ted Kennedy. The reason we have a socialist president right now, who is the last nail in a coffin, started with this idiot Ted Kennedy. I want to throw up after reading what you said. Stick to baseball. By the way-I met this idiot, and long story short, it wound up on the media, as he almost rolled with a friend of mine. It’s after he verbally abused all of us, when being liberal shouldn’t he be speaking about peace and love? The most vicious thing in the world as a liberal. Never fails. I’ve seen it over and over again. Peace and love my butt. Agree with them and everything is fine. Go against them and go rip your eyes out. They’re mentally insane. What’s the difference-Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, and your socialist president Barack Hussein Obama are finishing us up very well. It’s over.

        • V

          Wow. You’re a giraffeing lunatic.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          You don’t understand things well.

          Saying Ted Kennedy’s name does not bring politics into the equation. It’s just an analogy.

          You’re the one politicizing. Knock it off.

    • FrankFernandez

      WayneD has spoken the truth.

    • Steph

      Sitting on the bench (DH) instead of standing at first base will dramatically reduce the chances of a freak injury. If he gets more than 500 AB’s, he’ll make that lineup so much better. Opposing pitchers will throw 100 pitches before he gets his 3rd AB. The yankees usually feast on mediocre relief pitchers.

    • LuckyDuke

      I’ve known Nick Johnson for 20 years, and I can say that your questioning his commitment to baseball is way misguided. Take away his broken femur, which some athletes never recover from, and you have an injury sheet that looks a lot like a typical player. It should be noted that he broke his femur busting ass for a popup on a team way out of contention in the last few weeks of the season. As far as his physical health goes, he can do 500 burpees in 45 minutes. He’s a stud and he’s going to have a stellar year in a lineup packed with studs. Stop hatin.

  • mike c

    would really feel comfortable with damon still in LF.
    the lineup as it stands now, is one injury away from being considerably weaker than 2009

    • http://WayneD WayneD

      You hit the nail on the head Mike, which is why I was opposed to signing Nick “DL” Johnson.

      My other concern is this: Who the hell is going to provide protection for A-Rod in the 5th spot? Cano might be able to do it during the regular season, but what about the playoffs, given Cano was almost invisible last year during the playoffs.

      And, please, guys, don’t say Posada. An obviously aging Posada is NOT going to make pitchers pitch to A-Rod.

      A-Rod is looking at at least 125 walks this year unless Cano comes through Big Time.

      • http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090810&content_id=6355462&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy JobaWockeeZ

        Protection doesn’t affect much. It’s there but from what I’ve read it really doesn’t affect a hitter’s performance.

        • http://WayneD WayneD

          It affects what kind of pitches he sees and whether pitchers walk him to get to the next batter.

          If the Yankees have men on first and second and A-Rod comes to the plate, is the other team going to pitch around A-Rod if Posada is hitting behind him. Of course. They may not intentionally walk him, but they’ll try their damnest not to give him something good to hit. So the 5th spot is very important on the Yankees.

          • Ed

            Jorge Posada put up a 133 OPS+ last year – that means he’s 33% better than the average hitter. He’s got a 124 career OPS. Matsui’s 2009 was 131, with a 124 career mark.

            They both average 25 HR/year. Posada averages 98 RBI, Matsui 106.

            They’re near identical.

            The idea of protection makes sense if you’re talking about a guy like Gardner following A-Rod. When you’re talking about above average hitters, it doesn’t really make a difference who follows who.

            • king of fruitless hypotheticals

              whom.

              I’m sure Wayne appreciates your proper application of statistical science there, but since he probably wont say it, I will: nice, thanks.

        • Tom Zig

          I think protection only matters in extreme situations. Like if you had Pujols in back of A-rod. Or if you had Freddy Guzman batting behind A-rod all the time.

    • whozat

      The 2009 lineup was also one injury away from being seriously weaker than itself. Nady went down the first week. They went through the whole season with just as much of a safety net, relying on a DH coming off multiple knee surgeries who had to have his knees drained three times.

      It’s also January 6th. Calm down. Not only will they probably pick up one of the last bats standing over the next two months, it’s also really, really not going to be hard to find a solid LF/DH bat in June if bad things happen.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      the lineup as it stands now, is one injury away from being considerably weaker than 2009

      Every lineup is one injury away from being considerably weaker than 2009.

      • mike c

        fair point, but the yankees aren’t every lineup and i don’t know about you but, i’m just excited to get damon back and crank up this juggernaut again in 2010

        F boston

        • http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090810&content_id=6355462&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy JobaWockeeZ

          With or without Damon this team will be a top offensive team. Probably number 1 again.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          I’m excited to crank this juggernaut up again, Damon or no Damon.

          But to be frank, swapping Matsui/Damon for Granderson/Johnson probably equals a net DECREASE in injury risk. Think about it.

          Granderson and Johnson: Not old

          • Tom Zig

            Matsui: No Knees
            Damon: Had a calf injury in the final game of the WS

            Just adding to your point

          • mike c

            we lucked out with matsui in 2009– johnson’s definitely a roll of the dice however. at full health he’s no godzilla either
            would feel relieved though if we had JD back in LF. don’t get me wrong, gardner has great potential to be the premier 4th OF/PR for the world champion 2010 NYY and many years to come!

            • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

              johnson’s definitely a roll of the dice however. at full health he’s no godzilla either

              Matsui’s top three seasons of OPS+:
              137, 131, 130

              Johnson’s top three seasons of OPS+:
              149, 138, 137

              Matsui Career OPS+ is 124, Johnson’s is 125.

              Nick Johnson, if healthy, can absolutely put up Godzilla numbers. He can also exceed them.

              • king of fruitless hypotheticals

                i think we all have absorbed that by now…i think (at least for me) its the commonplace of injuries and the freakish nature of some that means perhaps, dare i say, our boy has bad luck. or he’s a clutz. or a pansy. or he uses his right hand for other things that he shouldnt be doing, and that leads to wrist injuries.

                (no matsui jokes!)

      • Ed

        Every lineup is one injury away from being considerably weaker than 2009.

        Almost every lineup is weaker than the 2009 Yankees lineup, even without injuries.

        • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

          That is a wonderful thing.

    • Bo

      I still cant see them going into the yr with Gardner planning on getting 600 ab’s.

      Damon is just way too perfect for this team. Makes too much sense.

      • mike c

        jeter damon teixeira arod posada cano johnson swisher grandy PR:gardner
        lock it up!

  • Bob C

    the right side of his body is cursed

  • Crazy Eyes Killa

    Cashman is going to get some much deserved praise if the power comes back, I for one am still dissapointed about Matsui but lets give NJ his shot.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Every time I get disappointed about Matsui, I remember that we have Curtis Granderson to replace him. Then I stop being disappointed.

      • Tom Zig

        I think of the fact that the Angels might be dumb enough to play him in the field and I laugh.

      • Bo

        Since when did Matsui play CF and hit 9th and not hit leftys or in the clutch?

  • http://facebook.com/iffruitcouldtalk Brandon M

    “The Yankees took a gamble, and considering the injuries that have kept him on the bench during his eighty-year MLB career it’s a pretty considerable one.”

    Either that is a typo or Johson has some crazy longevity.

    • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

      If you notice a small typo like that, it would be better if you were to just type it in the “submit a tip” box toward the right of the page. Mike, Joe or Ben will fix it quickly, and we can use this forum for meaningful discussion (and occasional quirky inside jokes, RAB-memes).

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        The “‘submit a tip’ box” is actually two text fields, not a single box.

        I would have emailed that correction directly to you, but I don’t know your email address… nor do I want to.

        • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

          Admit it, you’re curious. I know you are.

        • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

          Also, it’s two text fields within one box.

  • ggc

    After an 80 year career, you have to expect some time on the DL.

  • http://www.i-yankees.com iYankees

    Just wanted to say, that injury tool from Fantasy Pitch F/X is great.

  • http://www.myspace.com/rayzayas Ray Fuego

    He’s going to be fine. He’s not playing the field as much this year that means less wear and tear on his body. HE IS THE DAMN DH not our starting 1B.

    • Mac1

      He’s fine until he gets hit on the hand or the wrist in the batters box. Or injures something running the bases.

      I don’t think anyone can say either way how healthy he stays – he’s fragile and its a gamble – maybe it works out really well, maybe its a disaster or my guess, somewhere in the middle with about 350 pa.

      JMO.

    • KK

      The biggest problem is not that he gets injured (since almost all pro athletes get nicked up) but that he recovers at a snail’s pace. His injuries seem to be things you can pick up while batting as well (running the bases, getting hit by a pitch, etc)

  • Brent

    WayneD:

    Nick Johnson had a .477 OBP hitting in front of Hanley last year. (OMG SSS!!!)
    Nick Johnson walks more than he strikes out.
    Nick Johnson is unlucky.
    Nick Johnson slugged .520, hit .290, doubled 46 times and walked 110 times in ’06, when he was fully healthy.
    Nick Johnson got on base almost 43% of the time in ’09, and was robbed of his power coming off of a wrist injury.
    Nick Johnson posted ISO numbers of .211 and .230 in the seasons prior to his wrist injury.
    Nick Johnson is a lefty. Yankee Stadium has a short right porch.
    Nick Johnson has the physique of a jelly doughnut.
    Nick Johnson is a total bro.

    Have faith.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      and cashman has enough money to buy the mets to get that beer-league softball champ cleanup hitter who’s selling cotton candy is section 236 to come take NJ’s spot if he has to go that far.

      am i the only one that isnt afraid of this season? damon’s gone–so what? his calves are a feed lot short of the slaughter house. matsui’s gone–so what? he’ll have to have his knees drained 9 times this year (although he hits like a beast that first week back…). granderson fields like a boss. gardner in left can field like a boss. our D will be better than ever. Arod’s hip works (although that little ‘tic’ is gone, so kate left…sigh…). cmw isnt getting teed up like TJSC would if he were out there. and NICK SWISHER is settling into his relief role. CHAMPS!

  • Sal

    Hated the move he is built more like a softball player than a major leauger,they could have done better i.e. Vlad, Matsui, Delgado (if healthy), held out for Damon on a 1yr. contract (while having someone else play left field), Dye if he agreed to DH or Thome.

    • Pasqua

      With the names you’ve listed as alternatives (i.e Vlad, Dye, Thome), it seems like you want a “sexy” name more than a quality hitter. Managing a roster like that will likely make it older and worse at playing baseball.

  • Nick

    I believe you’re missing one Nick Johnson injury. He missed all of the 2000 season while still in the minors. If my memory is correct, I believe it was a wrist injury, and I thought there was some concern at the time about that injury lasting all season.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      Yeah, I believe it was a HBP on the wrist. Didn’t include minor league injuries, though.

  • grammar police

    *myriad of injuries

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      “Myriad” is originally a noun, but it has developed into an adjective, which is it’s most common modern usage.

      • Pasqua

        As an English teacher, I salute you.

        • king of fruitless hypotheticals

          so you teach british kids…who cares?

      • Chris

        So basically you’re saying that enough people screwed up with the usage of ‘myriad’ that the grammar police and English teachers finally gave up?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Bingo.

        • Am I the only Kevin?

          Kind of like everyone now saying “Jane and myself went for a walk” when they try to sound smart. You even have newscasters and politicians saying it now, which means it is well on its way to getting the same treatment. Ugh.

  • matt s

    I dont think his femur fracture can be entirely chalked up to freak accident. Yes the break was just an accident but there was something very odd in how long it took to heal from that. He should’ve been ready for the start of the season and he missed the whole year. I know he had a few complications and setbacks, but i forget why he missed the whole year.

    • Zack

      is that his fault? its like a pitcher coming back from TJS but scar tissue builds up or something and pushes his return date back- is that the pitchers fault?

  • http://yanksdraftsandprospects.blogspot.com/ Jake H

    I think Nick will be very good for the Yanks. High OBP and if he doesn’t get hit in the wrist or play the field I think he will be fine.

    • KK

      The guy should just wear full body armor. Not like he’s a speedster anyways.

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  • Bo

    Johnson will be fine at DH. Obv wont hit with the power Matsui did and there is a glaring hole at the #5 spot in the lineup after A-Rod. But NJ will be ok as long as he stays healthy and hitting DH daily should help that.

    Real problem is in LF. Where Gardner isn’t an everyday player as he proved last yr.

    • A.D.

      The issue isn’t Gardner hitting 9th. The issue is Gardner sucking & then if a few injuries to other batter pile up, leaving the Yanks with a suddenly very weak bottom of the order.

  • JackISBACK

    I like Gardner in LF. Until he got injured, he was doing decent in what was his rookie year. His stats are somewhat similar to Jacoby Ellsbury last year, if you project out the ABs to what Ellsbury got last year, and they are both of the same age.

    And we know Gardner can be a monster on defense with his range. I have no problem with Gardner being the starting LF for the Yankees.

  • A.D.

    The good thing is, worse case if NJ does get hurt there’s a capable replacement in Juan Miranda waiting at AAA.

  • FrankFernandez

    It’s one thing to be injury-prone, but why does he have to be fat, too?

  • http://TedKennedy guru

    I could not believe my eyes when I read what you said about Ted Kennedy. This forum is about baseball not politics. You pick one of the most revolting and disgusting politicians in history, and somehow equate him into a good equation. He murdered a girl. He was a far left radical liberal whose legislation you put four caused chaos in this country. In fact, his crazy 1965 immigration Reform Act has changed the entire milieu of this country. Changed it for the worse. In fact it was the beginning of the end of this country. We are done in large part because of that self-destructive, hate America, hate white men, hate good immigrants, hate industrious people, hate Europeans, hate just about everything this country was built upon, and for some crazy reason turn it into a third world like country, instead of a first world leader of the world, self-imposed self-destruction, which is insanity, that led to political correctness, and liberalism run wild, which will be seen by the responses to this post, as people have been hypnotized and mesmerized by a liberal media and academia, and it goes on and on. Please stick to baseball. To put one of the fathers of the end of this country, the ruination of our goodness, a liberal freak, from a freak state that should be nuked, as no matter what the Kennedys do they idolize them as kings and queens, that’s sick psycho family, and the King of them is this nut job Ted Kennedy. The reason we have a socialist president right now, who is the last nail in a coffin, started with this idiot Ted Kennedy. I want to throw up after reading what you said. Stick to baseball. By the way-I met this idiot, and long story short, it wound up on the media, as he almost rolled with a friend of mine. It’s after he verbally abused all of us, when being liberal shouldn’t he be speaking about peace and love? The most vicious thing in the world as a liberal. Never fails. I’ve seen it over and over again. Peace and love my butt. Agree with them and everything is fine. Go against them and go rip your eyes out. They’re mentally insane. What’s the difference-Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, and your socialist president Barack Hussein Obama are finishing us up very well. It’s over.

    • V

      Giraffeing insane.

    • FrankFernandez

      George W. Bush approval rating at end of presidency: 22%

      Awesome.

  • http://TedKennedy guru

    Seriously-you voted for Ted Kennedy?
    Oh my.
    Besides being a fringe lefist, murder was not enough for you?
    Then the Clintons (Hillary that lesbian 60’s radical), killed Vince Foster, ( and others).
    What is it with you liberals wanting to support murders?
    Oh I am sorry Bil clinton raped a woman too, (what was her name that poor woman-victim of this mentally ill animal?). Libera media saved him on that one too.
    You must be unbelievably brainwashed.
    Just how stupid and sheep like is America?
    It is stagerring.
    I like our basball points.
    But maybe you had very liberal parents that indoctrinated you, or professors, which are mostly all liberals, who filled your head up with mush. Like our Socialist FrEaKo Hussien president now too? (PLEASE do not bring Bush into this-we HATE him just as much as you lefties, but we do not drink kool-aid like you guys and call our idiots out instead of blindly sticking with them as you Democrats do).
    PLEASE stick to baseball!
    There are wonderful hateful liberal blogs all over-Kumbaya!
    Peace baby!
    Yeah my butt peace.
    Post there and you libs can show your real unloving colors there.
    Your irony makes me laugh.
    BASEBALL BLOG. Get it???

    • V

      Giraffeing insane..

  • KTEvent

    Rhetorical question to our audience: Let’s say NJ comes up with yet another injury (throw out the word “unlucky”; someone who is off the field as much as him has a chronic sports disability; based on history, most likely he will get injured again). Then what?

    I’m not comfortable with the way things fall out at that point, especially with a soft outfield (Damon for a year until Crawford and Mauer arrive in ’10 and Fielder in ’11?).

    Do you share my queazy feeling about the lineup if Nick goes down? Who bats #2 (no one with 150 k’s or more and a .320 OBP fits)? A lineup without the Word Series MVP, JD and Melky and then no NJ is a significantly weaker one.

    As for Guru, keep in mind that the extreme wingnuts are off the air at the moment and he gets a bit antsy when he bends over and only feels a cool breeze. Some folks will do anything for attention even diss a president who’s already rescued us from a depression, saved the auto and bank industries and is about to pass healthcare and bank regulation that will keep our well being and the economy sane. Yoooo, whacko: it’s BASEBALL!

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